Oct 19, 2014

Whole-wheat Chakli / Murukku


It’s Diwali season again, the Festival of Lights! People are all busy cleaning up their homes, buying pretty new clothes and lots of fire-crackers and diyas. Many even draw beautiful Rangoli in front of their homes surrounded by lamps of light (diya). It’s a fun festival, colorful, bright and noisy with all the fire-crackers bursting away….and that’s just how we like to celebrate Diwali.
Oh! and the best part…of course the goodies. So many lovely sweets and snacks are prepared and shared and the preparation starts from few weeks before the big day. Some prefer to just buy the snacks, others prepare them at home themselves…either way it’s a lot of fun.

I have celebrated Diwali in our own small ways after our marriage. I still remember our first Diwali when we were just newly married and living in Chennai. Wanting it to be extra special, I made Besan Laddo, Chakli and Gujiya (karanji), all for the first time, and apart from the chakli getting semi-burnt, the rest all came out fine!!  We decorated the house with lots of light and along with my sis-in-law and bro-in-law (who were also newly married), we burst lots of crackers and had a lot of fun. My sis-in-law’s name is also Manju.
Manju chechi (as I call her) had called us to her home for dinner and she made some amazing Dal kachori, Veg Biriyani, raita and Gulab jamuns that evening and it was just splendid. I remember all this just like it happened yesterday…Nostalgia is a weird thing! :-)

After that our next Diwali’s have all been here at Minneapolis and it has been fun every year. We usually go to the temple and burst crackers there and then have a grand potluck dinner at our friend’s place followed by more bursting of crackers. It’s a festival we eagerly wait for each year. We have been lucky to have friend’s whom we can proudly call next to family and we don’t miss a chance to celebrate any festival.


Last year I made some Ring Murukku and Chakli along with some fusion sweets like Gajar Halwa and turned some of it into Carrot Halwa filled Chocolates and Spiced Mango burfi
I will share the ring murukku recipe soon as well. Apparently it has taken my lazy bones a whole year to share this with you :) I’m yet to decide what to make this year…Lol!

I love crunchy snacks and chakli (murukku) is my favorite of them all. My mom’s elder sister, my velliammachi, used to make the most awesome chakli’s I’ve ever eaten. Infact these don’t come quite close to how she used to make them, but for my first try it came out very decent I should say and they are made with whole wheat flour. 
Well apart from the frying in oil, you can say it’s a bit healthy :-P 

Whole-wheat Chakli / Whole-wheat Murukku
Makes : approx 12-20 chakli depending on size
  

You'll Need
1 cup Wheat flour             
¾ tsp Red chilli powder               
1 ½ tsp Jeera/ ajwain               
1/8 tsp  Asafoetida         
1 tsp hot oil
Salt - as needed
Room temp water - as needed to form the dough
Oil - For deep frying

 Directions
1.  Place the atta powder in a clean white muslin cloth and tie it up like a pouch. Using a steamer or idli vessel , steam cook atta. Cover and Steam cook for 15 mins to 20 mins.


2.  Untie and when it is warm enough to handle, break it roughly and sieve it into another bowl and break any bigger pieces with hands.



3.  Heat oil in kadai, meanwhile you prepare the dough. Add red chilli powder, asafoetida, salt and jeera and a tsp of hot oil and Make dough with water. It should be a stiff yet smooth and non sticky dough. 


I used the star shaped hole plate to make these chakli.


4. Press the dough using the pressing gun and form into a concentric circle shape or coil shape. I pressed in onto my silicon mat (you can use an oiled plate or wax paper to shape the dough onto)



5. Make sure the oil is hot enough and Using a spatula transfer each chakli into the hot oil and deep fry both sides until crisp and golden brown. 
Drain over a paper towel and store in an air-tight container.



Notes:
1.  Never let oil fume at any point, regulate the heat now and then
2.  Make sure water doesn't enter the wheat powder while steaming and once steamed the whole-wheat flour (atta) should look dry and devoid of moisture.

Recipe Source: Rak's Kitchen


Have a fun and safe Diwali!

-Manju

Oct 15, 2014

Chocolate cupcakes with Buttercream Roses to celebrate 3 years of blogging!


Hello to all. It's been since we all met hasn't it? :-) We went for a much needed, month long vacation to Kerala and let me say....we had enormous fun. Our vacation started with a lovely Onam celebration with our whole family. A House boat trip in the back waters of Allepy and a dream visit to Delhi were some of the other highlights of our trip and yes, we saw the Taj Mahal. It's quite an experience I tell you, you have to see the Taj to know its glory. Another major event was a big pooja that my Dad was sponsoring for our home temple - Sarpa Kaavu. An ancient folk dance event called Padayani was performed throughout the night and the entire village came to see it. The program was a huge success and was aired on several TV channels. And best of all our lil'Appu had the best time of all, playing care-free along with his niece lil'Akku to share all the fun, play and kid fights with. In all it was a superb vacation and we are still in hangover mode ;-)

Anyways, it's time to get off my blog-slumber. Today is a special day and the reason why I'm still here. It's our little blog's 3rd b'day. Now that I think of it, my blog and my baby boy are of the same age now ;-) I'm not going to say too much about how much I love blogging and what it means to me....the fact that I'm still here after 3 years says it all.  
If I have you all with me I'll be here sharing more recipes and all kinds of baking joys from my kitchen to yours and your feedback and comments are what keeps me going. 

So Happy 3rd Birthday dear MED :-) 



I love Chocolate Cake and I wanted to try out a really rich and moist chocolate cake. This recipe is perfect in all ways. It's rich, moist and very chocolaty and there's a secret ingredient.....Coffee! Yes, a little coffee adds a huge burst of flavor in this cake. Along with cocoa powder, it also uses fresh bittersweet chocolate, which again adds to it's richness! Yumm! 

It bakes up perfectly and literally perfumes your house with the most amazing chocolaty aroma :-) 



After baking up these beauties I was very much intrigued to try making some buttercream roses, which I've wanted to try for a long time now. So I made a batch of my favorite Vanilla buttercream and tinted them pink and yellow and little bit green for the leaves.

I also tried a dual color tone for the petals which also came out pretty decently. Initially my petals weren't forming properly, but as I continued they started forming and getting in shape. Some of the petals even got a ruffled edge, making it look like a slightly weathered petal. I loved that look. 

I did not get a chance to take any video or step-wise pics while making the roses, mayb next time...but you can find several videos on youtube for this technique.



I'm only sharing the recipe for the Chocolate cupackes here. Both Chocolate and Vanilla buttecream goes very well with these cupcakes. You can find the buttercream recipes here . 


Rich Chocolate Cupcake Recipe
This recipe makes:
24 standard-size cupcakes or
50 mini cupcakes or
Two 8" cakes

You'll need:
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
⅓ cup Cocoa powder
¾ cup hot Coffee
¾ cup All-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated Sugar
½ teaspoon Baking Soda
6 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 Eggs
2 teaspoons White Vinegar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Directions:
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard-size cupcake pan/ mini cupcake pan with liners. Place the chopped chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Pour the hot coffee over the mixture and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate mixture for 20 minutes.
2. Whisk together the flour, sugar and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.
3. Whisk the vegetable oil, eggs, vinegar and vanilla extract into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
4. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake pan cups.
If making cupcakes, bake for 9mins and turn over the pan halfway and bake for another 9 mins (total of 18-20mins)
If making mini cupcakes , bake for 5 mins one side and turn pan halfway for another 5 mins (total of 10-12 mins)
5. Cool the cupcakes in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pan and place on the wire rack to cool completely for about 1 hour.

                                     *****************************************

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Makes 3 cups
You’ll need
Unsalted Butter , at room temp – 1 cup (that’s  2sticks or ½ pound)
Powdered sugar or Confectioners’ sugar (sifted) – 3 or 4 cups
Pure Vanilla Extract – 1 tblsp
Milk or heavy cream – 4 tblsp or as needed
Salt – a pinch (optional)
Directions
1.Beat butter until smooth and creamy using a paddle attachment on medium speed if using KitchenAid mixer or using electric hand blender.
2. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar , little at a time on low speed, until it mixes well with the butter.
3. Increase the speed to medium and add Vanilla extract, salt (if using) and 4 tblsp of milk/heavy cream. Combine well for few minutes until smooth and creamy. 
(If you want a thicker frosting add remaining 1 cup sugar. If you want a thinner consistency add more milk 1 tblsp at a time )

                                       *****************************************

For the Buttercream Roses:
Prepare Vanilla Buttercream and divide them to color into desired colors using food grade gel colors. Make sure the buttercream is of a smooth yet stiff consistency to hold it's shape. 
Add the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with Wilton's Rose Piping tip # 125 and make the swirls.  For a final touch add some leaves using a leaf tip.
(You can make the roses on a nail ring or directly pipe the buttercream roses onto the cupcakes)
Refrigerate each cupcake after the roses are placed on top to help them stay in shape.

Recipe Source: adapted from Cooks Illustrated



I shared these with some friends and colleagues and they all loved it.  But best of all my lil'Appu loved them the most. He wanted all the roses and the mini cupcakes were just the right size for him to enjoy! It's so much fun baking for family and friends :-)

-Manju




Aug 28, 2014

Watermelon Mint Lemonade


Summer is slowly winding down and you can just see the changes. The supermarkets have started putting up Fall clothes and accessories, lot of Fall sale going on and Pumpkin recipes are already doing the rounds. But I still have so many more summer recipes to share. eeks...am I too late?

I always take a bunch of pics of almost everything that I cook, specially if making it the first time in the hope that if they come out tasting good then to save the recipe I’ll share it on the blog. But most often than not, they just stay in a folder designated just for my food pics on my laptop, either due to lack of time or because I forgot the recipe or the changing seasons doesn't fit for my particular recipe ;-) Imagine an icecream recipe in deep winters!! But don't be amazed if I do that....

Btw do you want to know the name of that folder where I keep all my food pics…..here goes…...drum rolls.....'Culinary Skills' :-P And its literally a pictorial collection of all my kitchen experiments ever since I started cooking and that would precisely be from December of 2011, the month and year that I got married…Lol! 
I’ve changed from a desktop to laptop and that too two laptops and still I copy this folder and every single pic in it from desktop to laptop to laptop…hehe! More than my family pics I treasure these as it shows exactly how I have grown as a home-cook and shows exactly what all dishes I have tried to make till now. Not all the pics are blog worthy but some of the recipes definitely are, so if I make any of them again, I’ll surely share it here.

Coming back to my summer recipes, here’s another cool and chilled drink that we enjoyed for a small get-together with our friends. We had a bbq potluck party in the middle of a working week…yeah! Thankfully I had planned ahead and did some prep work so that I wouldn't have to run around after coming home from work. I made Margherita Pizza (all from scratch), tandoori chicken and Watermelon Lemonade. My friends brought some veggie burgers and zucchini and we grilled and ate and drank and had fun inspite of having to go to office the next day! All the recipes will be shared soon, which is why I said I have so many more summer recipes to share….


Lemonade being our favorite drink of choice, I decided to make a watermelon lemonade as I had a whole watermelon that I wanted to finish. I flavored the lemonade with mint flavored sugar syrup so it had a very mild yet wonderful mint flavor as well.

My measurements for the lemonade are approximate. I had a medium sized watermelon and used the juice from 3 ripe Meyer lemons. I do not usually add a lot of sugar to my fruit based lemonades as the fruit itself will add sweetness, but again, adjust as per preference. And watermelon being juicy enough I did not add any extra water, so this lemonade’s all pure watermelon juice and lemon juice with the fresh flavor of mint! ;-) This is also a perfect make ahead recipe and drink.


I used up all the mint so had nothing left for garnish :-P


Watermelon Mint Lemonade

You’ll need
1 medium sized Watermelon
3 Meyer lemons
1 cup Mint flavored Sugar-syrup (recipe below)

Mint flavored sugar syrup
1 cup water
1 cups sugar
½ cup or handful bunch of fresh mint leaves
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)


Directions
Make sugar syrup
Boil together water, sugar and mint leaves until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and add 1 tsp vanilla extract if preferred and let the sugar syrup cool down completely. Strain out the mint leaves before using the sugar syrup.

For watermelon lemonade
1. Cut the watermelon into cubes and blend/grind them in a blender. Use a strainer to strain out the juice and discard the pulp. (I strained the watermelon juice twice for a smooth juice)
2. Squeeze out the juice from the lemons and add it to the watermelon juice.
3. Add mint-flavored sugar syrup - as much as preferred. 
(If you prefer more lemon flavor add juice from more lemons)
4. Keep the watermelon lemonade refrigerated until used and serve in a glass filled with ice-cubes for a refreshing, chilled drink!

Note:
1.The taste of any drink is as per taste preference , so feel free to add or reduce the amount of lemon juice or sugar.
2. You can just add plain sugar instead of making the sugar syrup if you prefer. But make sure to stir the drink until the sugar crystals dissolve.


I'll make sure to post all the other 'summer' recipes shortly, but seriously it doesn't have to be summer to make those anyways! 

So just for fun, do you have any kitchen pics or souvenirs that you treasure and shows your kitchen journey till now? Lets chat about it. My comment section is all yours :)

-Manju



Aug 10, 2014

Mango Lemonade


A good refreshing and chilled summer drink is what I love best about summers. I love trying out the new summer drinks that the local coffee shops and juice shops comes up with during summer and I try them all. Manish loves chilled drinks, specially with lots of crushed ice in them. I prefer with less ice, but whichever way it's served, my lil'Appu can gulp them all down ;-) We are a bunch of juice lovers in the house.

Lemonade tops the chart of all our favorite summer drinks. Who doesn't love Lemonade?
I love sweet lemonade, Manish doesn't mind the salty version either. Lemonade brings back so many memories of my college days when on hot and humid days after class, my friends and I would go down to the college canteen and drinks glass after glass of sweetened cold lemonade. It was bliss and we could literally feel the cool drink pass down our throat! 
The first time when Manish and I met also we had a lemonade, so you see it brings back romantic memories as well...have I shared too much? Lol!! ;-) 


Another summer item I'm crazy about are mangoes. I've lots count of how many mangoes we've eaten this summer and I love to see my lil'Appu literally relish it. I have been wanting to try a Mango Lemonade from long and finally decided to make it for lil'Appu's 3 rd birthday party. I made a small batch just enough for myself and Manish and we loved it.

It's so vividly beautiful with that bright sunshine yellow color that the mango pulp imparts to the lemonade and it's sweet yet still very mildly lemony and tart. This lemonade will literally make your tastebuds flow and is so refreshing. It's a perfect summer drink and a pretty one too ;-) 

I don't really measure when I  make lemonade, I just keep adding lemon juice, water and sugar syrup until the taste is just right for me. But I've tried to approximate it to the best I can for this recipe. Feel free to adjust it as per taste.
I like to make a simple sugar syrup while making any fruit drinks. It makes sure there are no undissolved sugar crystals in your drink and any leftovers can be refrigerated and used later on for another drink. 
I often flavor the sugar syrup with either vanilla, mint or orange/lemon rinds for a mild yet pleasant flavor which is imparted to the main drink.


Mango Lemonade

You'll need
2 cups  fresh Lemon juice 
2 cups Mango pulp
6 cups Water
2 cups simple Sugar syrup
Plenty of Ice
Raspberries and Mint leaves for garnish

For sugar syrup
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions
Make simple sugar syrup
In a saucepan, add sugar and water and heat it until sugar completely dissolves. Add vanilla extract and turn off the heat. Allow the sugar syrup to cool.

Mango Lemonade
In a large pitcher, pour the fresh squeezed lemon juice, mango pulp and water.
Add 1 cup sugar syrup and mix well. Stir well and refrigerate for few hours. 
(Taste and add more sugar syrup if needed else more lemon juice/water)
Before serving add ice, garnish with raspberries and mint leaves and serve chilled!

Notes
1.  I've used store-bought sweetened Mango pulp (Swad brand), so I didn't have to use too much sugar syrup as the drink was sweet enough to my taste.
2.  If using fresh mangoes, then peel the mango, scoop out the flesh, grind it into a pulp along with the lemon juice. Strain and add the remaining ingredients. In this case you may need more sugar syrup to balance the sweetness depending upon how sweet the mango is.
3. Try adding sparkling water or club soda for a fizzy drink ;-)
4. You can also add mango cubes in the lemonade along with raspberries. 

I have also made mango lemonade with mint flavored sugar syrup and that tastes awesome too. Add handful of fresh mint leaves while making the sugar syrup and remove the leaves . Use this syrup while making the lemonade.  The aroma and subtle flavor of mint definitely adds a boost of flavor to the lemonade.



For Appu's 3rd b'day party I made a punch  topping the lemonade with some raspberries and ice in a punch bowl. And to go along with the Dino theme, I named it Active Volcano Punch! It was a crowd pleaser and got over so fast, I had to make it again twice during the course of the party. It looked pretty and tasted refreshing and both kids and adults enjoyed it!

I'm sure you'll love this Mango Lemonade as mush as how we do. Try it out and let me also know how you liked it :-)

-Manju

Aug 3, 2014

Chicken Salad Pinwheels


We love Chicken Salad sandwiches at home, including my little 3 yr old. My younger sister, Maya is an ardent fan of chicken salad sandwiches and I must say she's the gal who introduced my family to this creamy and yumm sandwich when we were kids :-) 
I had absolutely no interest at all in cooking when I was a teenager….hehe.  Maya used to be the food experimenter at home, I preferred to be the taste-tester and mummy used to reluctantly agree to her wishes of trying something new now and then. She happened to eat a chicken salad sandwich from a friend’s house one day, got the recipe from the friend’s mom and instantly wanted to try it at home as it seemed very easy. She must have been in 6th grade then.

We did not even know this sandwich was called chicken salad sandwich back then. Maya’s sandwich recipe was simple, it had chicken pieces that was boiled in water with ginger-garlic paste, salt n pepper and pulled apart, grated carrots, mayonnaise, salt and pepper, but it was the tastiest sandwich we had ever eaten. 
Creamy, chunky and really good.  Every time daddy brought home chicken to make chicken curry we would reserve a few pieces to make our favorite chicken sandwich and I happily helped her while she made it ;-)



I learnt how to make chicken salad sandwich the way it's made here in the US after watching it on some show on Food Network. Along with cubed chicken and mayonnaise, celery, cranberries, walnuts or even grapes, herbs like dill or cilantro or parsley, sometimes even a dash of hot sauce is added in the mix and it's usually served cold.  I've tried it several times at home and must say Manish & I very much enjoy it every time and of-late our lilAppu too.


These sandwich pinwheels were just a fun idea of mine one day after I came back home from work. It was a long day and I needed to rejuvenate myself. My favorite way to de-stress is try out something new in the kitchen...lol! I decided to make chicken salad sandwiches as that would keep me busy for a while, but then while taking out the bread I thought why not roll out the bread with a rolling pin, add the chicken salad and cut them into 1” sized pieces.


Turned out to be a fun dinner and lil’Appu and Manish totally enjoyed it and had no clue how many sandwiches they actually ate that night in the form of pinwheels  ;-) I did not trim out the crust of the bread, but you can for a better presentation and I've used whole wheat bread.

This is a fun idea for a tea-party or as an appetizer for any gathering.  Serve it cold or at room temperature. I love adding walnuts and dried cranberries for extra crunch and flavor but was out of those the day I made these, but I’ve included that in the recipe below which is how I usually always make.



You can even use tortilla or chapatis for filling the chicken salad in and roll them up and cut into pinwheels. Stick a toothpick at the end to hold it together and serve as appetizers. Bread easily sticks together at the end.



Chicken Salad Sandwich
Makes 2-3 regular sandwiches or 3 pinwheels per slice of bread ;-)

You’ll Need
2 cups boiled and diced or shredded Chicken
2 celery stalks (chopped)
½ of a Red Onion or White Onion (minced into small pieces)
¼ cup walnuts
¼ cup dried cranberries
1 Tblsp of finely chopped Cilantro or Dill leaves
1 cup Mayonnaise
½ cup thick Yogurt or Sour cream
2 Tblsp Lemon juice
Salt – to taste
Fresh ground black pepper – to taste
Red chilli powder or Paprika or Cayenne Pepper or Hot sauce – a pinch or a dash for flavor
Sandwich Bread – toasted or not as needed

Directions
1. Boil the chicken pieces (leg, thigh or breast pieces) in  water enough to immerse the pieces. Add salt and pepper and cook until the chicken is bone tender and pulls apart easily. (Occasionally I also add fresh grated ginger-garlic while boiling for more flavor)
2. In a large bowl, mix together all the other ingredients : celery, onion, walnuts, dried cranberries, cilantro/dill, mayonnaise, yogurt/sour cream, chilli powder/hot sauce and lemon juice.
3. Toss in the chicken pieces once cooled and mix everything together, add more salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste and refrigerate until the flavor sets, about 2 hrs.

For the pinwheels
1. Take a slice of bread, roll it out with a rolling pin to become thinner.
2. Spread the chicken salad on top, roll the bread slice, trim off the ends (or not) and cut into 1” thick pieces. Enjoy!

For a basic chicken salad sandwich
Serve on artisan bread or regular sandwich bread  with some lettuce and sliced tomatoes with the chicken salad spread on top, make a sandwich and enjoy with some chips and a pickle.

Notes:
1. The Chicken can be boiled in chicken broth if preferred.
2. I like to use bone-in chicken as it has more flavor and pulls apart easily. If using only chicken breasts cut into small cubes.
3. Some recipes include adding Dijon mustard paste either in the chicken salad or on the bread slice , but that's your choice.
4. You can even use Rotisserie chicken.


It's a super easy recipe and trust me kids will love it as it is creamy and not spicy. I had included chicken salad sandwiches as appetizer for Appu's Dino b'day party in the shape of dinosaurs ;-) The kids loved it and it was all gone... For more flavor I spread a little ketchup on one slice, chicken salad on the other and sandwiched them up and cut into dino shapes :)


-Manju

Jul 29, 2014

Dinosaur Cake - a simple tutorial


I love experimenting with Appu’s b’day cakes. Because no matter how it turns up I know he’ll love it! I’m a self-taught cake decorator so I love to experiment, specially on the cakes I make for my family. It brings me both joy and also helps me explore various cake decorating skills.
Lil’Appu had a Dinosaur themed party for his 3rd b’day and the first thing he did was ask for a dinosaur birthday cake. Anybody who asked him about his b’day got the reply that ‘I’ll be getting a dinosaur b’day cake’ :-) He was so excited about it and I wanted it to look good.  

I decided to make my first ever carved 3D cake in the shape of a Stegosaurus dinosaur. 
I’m generally a little hesitant to do carved cakes for two reasons (1) what if the carving goes all wrong? (2) wastage of cake – although you could make cake pops with leftovers.  But I made up my mind this time and went ahead with my plans.

Here’s a simple tutorial with whatever pics I could manage to click while building my dino cake.


Step 1: Get the Stegosaurus spikes ready

Start with making the spikes for the Stegosaurus atleast a week in advance. I mixed some tylose powder in my marshmallow fondant but you can also use gumpaste for this as the spikes need to be hardened and stand straight on the cake. 

I used tear drop shaped cutters in three different sizes and then cut out the end from both sides to get a pointed tip at the bottom -> this will help to insert it into the cake. 
The cut out pieces can be either re-shaped or used just as is for the smaller spikes.
Make marks all over the spikes in straight lines to give it a rugged appearance and some texture.  Make several extras incase they break.
Plcae them on a baking sheet with wax paper to dry for atleast 4 days at room temperature.


I do not own an air-brush for spray coloring the cake, so this time I decided to give a try at using the Color Mist Spray colors by wilton and it worked like a charm :-) I spray misted the spikes on both sides with yellow and allowed them to dry. Then I painted the orange color in the middle using Orange luster dust mixed in vodka. Do this atleast 3 days before.

 

Step 2 : Bake, shape , fill and frost the cake

Ideally the body should be more oval-dome shaped than round-domed but I did not have an oval shaped pan so I used my regular round cake pans. 
For the body of the dino, I baked two 8” round cakes and one domed round cake in my small glass pyrex bowl.  Made Vanilla Buttercream and stacked them all together like this.

The flavor was a rich Chocolate-Espresso cake with lots of chocolate chips. 


To get an overall dome shape I gently carved out some cake from the top 8” cake (below the round domed cake) in a downward slant until it blended with the rest of the cake and it finally looked like this.


Frost the entire cake with vanilla buttercream. I just did a rough frosting as I was going to be covering the cake in fondant anyways, but make sure all gaps are filled in and the edges are quite smooth.


Step 3: Model the head, legs and tail (Can use Fondant, Cake or Rice Krispie treats)

I was planning to make cake-pop mix using the cake scraps after the carving to use for making the head,  legs and tail of the dino.  But I didn’t have to carve out a lot and had no extra cake on hand, so I used some leftover fondant that I had from doing a previous cake. So the Head, Tail and Legs of the dino were made with Fondant.   
(You could also use Rice-Krispie treats if you want)

The Stegosaurus head is small when compared to body and is sort of tapered with a beak like mouth.
The two front legs are smaller than the two back legs.
The tail is thick (specially where it joins the body) and its long and tapered at the end.


Step 4: Covering with Fondant 

Finally drape the whole cake including the head, legs and tail in fondant (I kneaded my fondant light green while making it) and trim away excess fondant.

Using a ball tool make holes for the eyes, small nostrils and make a shape for the mouth.
Again make vertical markings all over the body of the cake, the tail, head everywhere, to give it some texture and a scaly bodily appearance. Take care to not tear the fondant though.


I then Spray Misted the cake with Green :-) Let the cake dry out at room temp for 1-2 hrs.


Step 5: Place the spikes and give finishing touches

Now add the spikes on the cake body.  Starting with smaller spikes on the head, then bigger spikes in the center and smaller spikes again towards the tail, ending with pointed spikes at the end of the tail. I had to make small cuts with a knife to help insert the spikes into the body without breaking the spikes.
I made two small white balls for the eye-balls and used an edible marker to add the black pupil for the eyes.

Finally the finishing touches:
-- The cake board was coated with Chocolate buttercream for a muddy appearance.
-- Green grass  (vanilla buttercream colored with green) was piped all around the dino-cake to make it look as if the dino is resting in the grass. Used Wilton grass tip 233 for this.
-- Crushed graham cracker biscuits resembled sand and I added that all around the dino near the grass.


Just before the party I used some royal-icing to write ‘Happy Birthday Manav’ on the cake board. And this is how it looked.


The whole inspiration behind this dino cake was a tutorial I saw of a Stegosaurus cake by Montreal Confections and I just couldn't get it off my head :) so even though I was planning a T-Rex cake I finally decided to do a Stegosaurus with the pretty spikes on its body. 


Hope you liked the tutorial and I must confess this has been the easiest cake I have done so far. Even the detailing was pretty simple. If you ever make a dino cake please do share it with me. Would love to see your creations.

-Manju